Collection Highlights: Eastern Art
Bronze ritual vessel or gui
On a square pedestal base, 22.7 cm high, Western Zhou period (c.1050–771 BC), from north China.
In the Western Zhou dynasty bronze vessels were used not only ritually to honour ancestors, but also, by means of inscriptions, to commemorate military or political success. A six-character inscription cast in the interior of this vessel associates it with the state of Yong, now part of Henan province in north China. Rubbings of bronze inscriptions were published from the eleventh century onwards, and records of this inscription show that the bronze was formerly in several well-known collections. The decoration of the vessel is restrained, and the fact that it is mounted on a square pedestal base indicates that it was an important piece. [Purchased with assistance from the National Art Collections Fund and the Friends of the Ashmolean Museum, EA1996.15].